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Barn Ventilation - How to Keep Your Animals Healthy and Happy

If you ride horses or know a little about horses, you know they can work up a lather if worked hard. But do horses sweat the way people do if they’re standing around in the heat or doing relatively light work, such as riding a trail?

Do Horses Sweat?

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Yes, horses do sweat! As with people, horses sweat in order to get rid of excess body heat and regulate body temperature. According to the Equisearch article, “The Scoop on Horse Sweat,” horses sweat whether they’re undergoing intense exercise or standing around on hot, humid days. In fact, humidity can actually add to a horse’s stress. “When the air is saturated with moisture,” states the Equisearch article, “the sweat doesn’t evaporate quickly enough to dissipate the horse’s body heat. He keeps sweating, but it doesn’t help.”

So, what can you do to help keep your horses cooler and less stressed? Let’s find out…

How To Keep Your Animals Cool

As a barn manager or owner, you have many options for keeping horses cool:

  • Keeping them in the barn on really hot days
  • Ensuring they have shade to stand in if outdoors
  • Using fans inside the stable or barn

Judging from the horse forums we’ve read, many people rely on box fans. These fans do keep horses cooler, but the problem with them is that they kick up a lot of dust and they’re expensive to run. Plus, you generally need one fan per horse — and if you have many horses, that can add up to a lot of fans and energy costs. Plus you have to deal with the logistical nightmare of plugging all those fans in and ensuring the horses can’t get at the cords!

Natural Barn Ventilation

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs of Ontario, Canada published a detailed Fact Sheet on Horse Barn Ventilation. This fact sheet covers everything from what is good air quality to how a natural ventilation system works.

Two main considerations for creating a natural ventilation system, according to the authors, is to ensure the length of your building is perpendicular to the prevailing wind and that all obstructions around the barn that prevent fresh air movement be removed.

The authors also point out that natural ventilation systems are quieter than mechanical fan systems and provide more daylight for horses (because you keep the barn doors open). However, strong wind and/or supplemental high-speed box fans can create too much air velocity — which is discomforting to horses (and people, too). No one likes to sit in the middle of a draft or in front of a fan that’s shooting jets of air at you.

While we completely agree that a natural ventilation system for horses is ideal (we like to throw our windows open, too, to let in cool breezes from the ocean here in Southern California), we can see that the Ministry authors didn’t know about High Volume, Low Speed (HVLS) fans when they wrote their fact sheet. The authors state, “A good air distribution system removes excess heat and moisture while minimizing air contaminants and drafts.” This is exactly what an HVLS fan does.

HVLS Fans for Barn Ventilation

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HVLS horse barn ceiling fans are an amazing option for barn ventilation. This is a much better - and SAFER - option than small box fans. Because HVLS fans move so slowly, they mimic the way a nice breeze feels. You and your horses instantly feel cooler. HVLS fans also help regulate humidity, which is the biggest problem in horse barns. Remember, humidity actually causes your horses stress. 

Additionally, due to increased moisture in the air, it’s very easy for molds and pathogens to increase and grow. These molds and pathogens then get into the air and into the respiratory systems of horses — and people, too! Horses get respiratory infections, which can be deadly. Plus, we all know many people have allergies. These issues will kick those allergies into high gear. With an HVLS ceiling fan in the barn, humidity levels remain stable. So, fewer health issues for you and your horses! Plus, fresh air is constantly circulated.

HVLS Fan Benefits


As a horse owner, you should know about how HVLS fans can benefit you and your horses. This is especially true if you need to supplement your natural ventilation system due to these or other challenges:

  • You can’t situate your barn in such a way to take advantage of cooling breezes
  • If you live in a hot, humid area where a mechanical cooling system is needed (i.e. you live in the south where opening a window on a day where the humidity is at 100% is simply not an option)
  • If you live in an area where winter temps go below freezing

An HVLS fan system can solve these problems and more — without you having to worry about whether your natural ventilation system is up to snuff. Check out these amazing benefits:

Incredibly energy efficient

Although they’re much larger than traditional box fans, HVLS fans actually consume much less energy. This is because their size and design allow them to move larger volumes of air much more efficiently. In fact, one HVLS barn fan can replace 50 box fans and costs about a dollar a day to operate.

Significantly improves air quality 

Horses are sensitive creatures. Poor air quality, including dust and gases, too much moisture or not enough moisture, adversely affect the horse in myriad ways. Because an HVLS barn fan slowly moves a large volume of air down and then out 360 degrees, it continually mixes fresh air with stale air — and minimizes the effects of pathogens, mold, and other air quality issues.

Lower indoor barn temperatures 

An HVLS barn fan lowers indoor barn temperatures by as much as 10 degrees! This is a definite plus for you and your horses. Plus, you’ll lower your energy costs significantly as an HVLS fan costs about a dollar a day to operate.

Can be run in “reverse”

During winter months, an HVLS barn fan can be run in reverse to move and mix hot elevated air (at ceiling level) with the cold air (at floor level). This evens out and raises the overall temperature of your barn while reducing your heating costs. It also keeps your horses comfortable without drying out their nasal mucosa.

Won’t distract animals 

Due to their slow movement, HVLS fans are naturally quiet. And, because they hang from the ceiling, one HVLS fan can cover 20,000 square feet, which means you don’t have to point a high-speed box fan and its distracting high-velocity air movement on each horse stall.

Learn More


Want to learn more about how an HVLS barn fan can supplement your natural ventilation system? Be sure to join our online social media network! Or, give us a call! We’ll be happy to talk to you.

For more information about how HVLS barn fans can help you keep your animals cool on hot, humid days, visit our website today and find the perfect HVLS fan for your barn.